by Jared Musgrove and Travis Cunningham
“Spiritual warfare has increased ever since we decided to step into leading a group.”
We just heard this from four more newly launched group leaders. And it’s not the first time.
Why are we constantly surprised?
Group leaders are often the most frontline ministry leaders in the local church. Of course the enemy of God targets those leading His children into a space for community with Him and one another.
Listen, there’s nothing the enemy hates more than Christians joining together in unity. If he sees you getting along, developing friendship, experiencing healing, or even suspects that you might have a shot at this… he’s on the move.
We won’t get knocked back in our group ministry when we realize, recognize, and expect the reality of spiritual warfare. We should pray up and prepare our leaders for it.
We’ve come to realize that a large part of discernment is being aware of where the enemy is countering with resistance. Where are the places where it’s just not working? It just feels… off? Out of sync? Reminiscent of Babel?
Here’s the unexpected encouragement: the enemy doesn’t attack what doesn’t concern him. If you feel attacked as a group leader or groups point person in your church, lean into the resistance. There’s a reason for it. Maybe the enemy sees potential that even you don’t. Refuse to give the good ground and ask for discernment to see his schemes against the good God has for your group.
Instead, go on the offensive. Here are a few simple ways to keep your group from being pelted or pecked to death by the enemy of God.
A simple, yet profound way to prepare for the warfare and the work in group is to pray over the seats in living rooms or classrooms. Many times a prayer team or volunteers will do this before a service meeting on a church campus. We should do the same before our group meets.
Your group members are likely people of habit who sit in the same general spot each time. Use this for the work and warfare. Pray for the individual who sits in each seat by name. Ask for the Lord to give you Scripture to pray for them, pray what you know, what they’ve shared, ask for God to meet them tonight in group.
Prayer Over One Another
The enemy hates friendship or even just healthy relationships between Christians. No wonder these are so hard. The enemy’s assault on them is constant.
So too should be our prayers over and for one another. Spend the first part of group time acknowledging the truth of the warfare in your group. Pray over and for one another. We’ve found the best method for this is to pray the One Another commands of Scripture when you meet. As you are apart, keep praying for one another and what the Lord is doing in your group.
Small group is spiritual work and warfare. Pray to close the group and include a blessing over the house where it’s held. Ask that the Lord would guard and guide the souls in the groups and the homes represented. Such cleansing prayers are simple but essential to being sober-minded and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8).
In closing, when it comes it comes to demons and darkness and the spiritual realm, we face two common dangers in regard to our small groups:
On one side, we can attribute every problem to demons and darkness. Physical ailments, illness, injuries, depression, divorces, whatever else. It’s all demons and it’s all spiritual. And that’s not true. Sometimes a cough is a cough. And sometimes a talkative small group member is just a talkative small group member.
On the other end, we can attribute nothing to demons and darkness. There is no spiritual realm, there are no demons, there are no operators of Satan in our world out to oppress and possess people. Again, this is not true. We will face the enemy’s head-on resistance in our efforts to lead people into community with God and one another.
Prepare as leaders and prepare your leaders for this reality through prayer.
Dr. Jared Musgrove is the Pastor for Leader Development and Groups at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX.
Travis Cunningham is the Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at StoryChurch in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.